On this day in 1971, Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 was hijacked by a man known as “D. B. Cooper” (or Dan Cooper). The flight was a 30-minute trip from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington. Soon after takeoff, “Cooper” passed a note to a stewardess; assuming she was being given the man’s phone number, she put the note into her purse. Cooper – an average-looking caucasian man wearing a suite and clip-on tie – indicated that he had a bomb in his bag, and politely requested $200,000 and a parachute. The aircraft’s crew radioed ground control and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) was contacted. Before landing, Cooper paid for a drink and chatted about the weather and local terrain. The plane landed safely in Seattle and the money (equivalent to $1.2 million in 2019) and parachute were brought on board. All passengers were removed from the plane.
The plane was refuelled and took off, heading towards Mexico City. At some point during the flight Cooper opened the passenger door, extended the stairway and jumped from the aircraft. The bizarre crime inspired a number of imitators in 1972 (one man hijacked an Air Canada plane but was beaten up by the crew as he strapped on his parachute) – but D.B. Cooper, the polite man in the suit and clip-on tie was, never seen again.